Festa: A bright, brilliant night

Last updated 09:35 27/10/2014
KIRK HARGREAVES

Architecture students from around the country collaborated to create beautiful glowing installations.

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KIRK HARGREAVES/The Press Zoom
Rosie Compton, aged 8, at Anti Gravity installation at Festa's street carnival devoted to temporary architecture.
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Did Christchurch's third Festival of Transitional Architecture illuminate the city? WILL HARVIE gives his verdict.

The weather and crowd behaved at the Festival of Transitional Architecture's big street party on Saturday night in central Christchurch. It was a great night.

THE WINNERS

Festa organisers did not pick an official winner from the 14 major CityUps installations created by architecture students but the crowd spent the night trading views on their favourites.

Bronze: Often mentioned was AntiGravity, a road cone dome surrounded by more road cones fastened to walls that created a wave effect. Flashing, multi- coloured lights, wafting fake smoke and loud rock'n'roll made the installation by University of Auckland students stand out.

Silver: Another favourite was Equilibrium, a huge cube of diaphanous white cloth. Projectors flashed live video footage shot outside the cube and pre-recorded "info-aesthetics" on to the wafting cloth walls, while music blasted. It was a pop-up night club made for dancing - the installation with the most purpose.

Gold: The winner, however, was Orbis. This featured hundreds of cloth sleeves hanging from a wavy ceiling and carrying strong water balloons. These moving stalactites invited people into their midst and the irresistible urge was to swing them at companions. The funniest bit, a friend said, was aiming for a friend, missing and hitting a stranger in the face with a soft splot (the water balloons didn't often break). Orbis was organic, original, inviting.

Best partnership: Each student team was paired with Christchurch bars, food stalls and the like - they were the tenants of the transitional structures. The most successful was Games Hall, volunteers from Wellington's Newtown Festival who hosted volleyball games, tug o' wars and magic carpets. Wholesome adult fun. It was a quiet night, a cop on the beat said.

THE GOODWILL

The students: These were class assignments but the 250 students - most from Auckland universities - threw themselves into making cool things for Cantabrians. Their goodwill was immense and the crowd of more than 10,000 inhaled.

We also got fire-eating jugglers, ethnic performers, food trucks and a night market. Many carnivals have those. Festa gives temporary architecture. It works. Only in post-quake Christchurch.

"We asked for extraordinary things," Festa director Jessica Halliday said. The students needed 210 tonnes of concrete weights, 20 tonnes of scaffolding, 20,000 plastic bottles, 1500 road cones and more. The donations came in. "It's astonishing," she said.

And they got the scale right this time. The first Festa carnival, in 2012, developed into a sometimes uncomfortable crush of people. This year, there was space to roam, breathe and think.

THE VERDICT

Orbis led the field, the student contribution was fantastic, and there was decent space to enjoy a bright, brilliant night.

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